As an author, you know that publishing a book is just the beginning of your journey. In order to turn your book into a successful writing career, you need to have a clear plan in place. This 6-month business planning guide for authors will help you lay the foundation for long-term success.
Step 1: Define Your Goals
Before you can create a plan, you need to know what you’re working towards. Take some time to think about your goals as an author.
- Do you want to make a full-time living from your writing?
- Do you want to build a platform to help you land a traditional publishing deal?
- Do you simply want to share your message with as many people as possible?
Your goals will shape every decision you make, so it’s important to be clear about what you want to achieve.
Write down your goals and keep them in a place where you can refer to them often. This will help you stay focused and motivated as you work towards your objectives.
Step 2: Evaluate Your Resources
Next, take stock of the resources you have at your disposal. This includes things like your time, your skills, and your network. Make a list of all the resources you have and consider how you can use them to achieve your goals.
For example, if you want to make a full-time living from your writing, you’ll need to be able to devote a significant amount of time to your author business.
If you have other commitments that will eat into your time, you’ll need to figure out how to manage your schedule or delegate some of your tasks.
If you have a particular skill set, such as marketing or graphic design, you can leverage those skills to help promote your book and build your brand.
And if you have a large network of people who can help you get your book in front of more readers, that can be a valuable resource as well.
Step 3: Identify Your Target Audience
In order to sell your book, you need to know who you’re selling it to. Take some time to research your target audience and figure out what they’re looking for in a book.
Identify the specific group of people you’re trying to reach with your marketing efforts. Consider their interests, values, and needs, and tailor your marketing message accordingly.
This will help you modify your marketing efforts and make sure you’re reaching the right people.
Start by thinking about the genre of your book.
- Who are the typical readers of books in your genre?
- What do they like to read?
- What do they value?
Next, consider the themes and topics covered in your book. Who might be interested in these ideas? Are there any specific groups or communities that might be particularly interested in your message?
Will you be targeting a more general audience or a niche group?
Finally, think about the format of your book and additional offerings:
- Are you writing a physical book or an ebook? Are you creating a series? Will there be an audio version?
- Will you offer companion courses, workshops, downloadables (like workbooks, coloring books, or other materials), or perhaps a community hub?
All of these factors will help you identify your target audience and figure out how to reach them.
Step 4: Create a Marketing Plan
Now that you know who you’re targeting, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to reach them.
A good marketing plan should include a mix of tactics that will help you spread the word about your book.
Create a presence on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, TikTok (or wherever your ideal audience spends time), and start sharing updates about your book. Share excerpts, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and other interesting content that will help you connect with your audience.
While some authors are starting to pull away from social media, you still may want to have a presence on at least one social platform to aid in your outreach or to leverage paid ads.
You should also consider reaching out to book reviewers and book bloggers who might be interested in reviewing your book. This can be a great way to get some early buzz and help you reach new readers.
You might consider hosting events or joining author panels at conferences or book festivals. This can be a great way to connect with readers in person and build your brand.
Another tactic to consider is paid advertising. This can be a more advanced (and often expensive) option, but it can also be very effective in reaching a large number of people in a short amount of time. Platforms like Amazon Ads and Facebook Ads allow you to target specific groups of people and track the success of your campaigns.
Here are some additional elements to include in your marketing plan:
- Marketing channels: Determine the best channels for reaching your target audience. This might include social media, email marketing, paid advertising, or podcasting.
- Marketing messages: Develop a consistent message that resonates with your target audience and reflects your author brand.
- Marketing and content calendar: Create a schedule for your marketing efforts, including the specific content you’ll create, actions you’ll take, and deadlines for completing them.
- Book blurbs or reviews: Gather quotes from reviewers or influencers that can be used in your marketing efforts. These can be powerful tools for convincing potential readers to pick up your book.
- Marketing materials: Develop marketing materials such as downloadables, a book trailer, or promotional graphics that can be used to promote your book.
- Marketing partnerships: Look for opportunities to collaborate with other authors or companies to promote your book. This might involve guest blogging, cross-promotion, or co-hosting an event.
- Marketing automation: Consider using marketing automation tools (like Convertkit) to help you manage and execute your marketing efforts more efficiently.
- Measurement and evaluation: Set specific metrics to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts (e.g. sales, email subs, post/podcast engagement) and regularly evaluate your progress. This will help you identify what’s working and what’s not, so you can make adjustments as needed.
Here’s a simple example of how a marketing plan might look for an author promoting their new book:
Target audience: Book lovers in the mystery/thriller genre, ages 25-45
Marketing channels: Social media (TikTok, Twitter, Instagram), email marketing, paid advertising (Amazon Ads)
Marketing budget: $200/month
Marketing messages: “Get ready for the thrill ride of your life with our new mystery/thriller novel. Follow us on social media for exclusive content and behind-the-scenes looks at the book.”
- Week 1: Launch a social media campaign and set up an email newsletter sequence to subscribers announcing a price promotion
- Week 2: Run Amazon Ads targeting mystery/thriller readers
- Week 3: Host a Q&A on Instagram with the author
- Week 4: Run a contest to win a signed copy of the book
- Week 5: Reveal your writing space on TikTok and post a YouTube Short of you signing copies of the book to send to fans
- Week 6: Collaborate with other authors in the genre on a blog tour to promote the book
By creating a marketing plan, you’ll be able to focus your efforts and make the most of your marketing budget. It’s also a good idea to review and adjust your plan regularly to make sure it’s still aligned with your goals and effective in reaching your target audience.
Step 5: Develop a Sales and Distribution Plan
Now that you’ve got a plan in place for marketing your book, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll actually sell it.
There are several options available to self-published authors, and the right one for you will depend on your goals and resources.
One option is to sell your book through online retailers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple Books. These platforms make it easy for readers to discover and purchase your book, and they also offer tools like Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon) that allow you to manage your sales and royalties.
Another option is to sell your book directly to readers through your own website. This can be a great way to build a relationship with your readers and keep a larger portion of the profits from your sales. To sell your book directly, you’ll need to set up a payment system and create a way for readers to download your book.
If you’re interested in reaching a wider audience, you may also want to consider distribution through traditional channels like bookstores and libraries. This can be a more complex process, but it can also be very rewarding if you’re able to get your book into these outlets.
Step 6: Create a Financial Plan
Finally, it’s important to have a financial plan in place to help you manage your income and expenses.
Start by setting a budget for your marketing and promotion efforts. Determine how much you can afford to spend on advertising and other marketing tactics, and stick to your budget as closely as possible.
You should also create a system for tracking your income and expenses. This will help you understand where your money is coming from and where it’s going, and it will also give you a better sense of how your business is performing.
In addition to tracking your income and expenses, you should also set financial goals for yourself. This could be as simple as earning a certain amount of money from your book sales each month, or it could be more ambitious, like saving a certain amount of money for a down payment on a house.
Whatever your goals, having a clear financial plan will help you stay on track and achieve your objectives.
Creating a successful business as an author requires a lot of hard work and planning. But, by following this 6-month business planning guide for authors, you’ll be well on your way to building a foundation for long-term success.
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